Posts Tagged ‘Stan Musial’

The All-Star game

In Uncategorized on July 7, 2011 at 5:17 am

As baseball gets ready for the All-Star game, I have seen a few articles lately bemoaning the demise of the “mid-summer classic.” Last year, for example, the game had its lowest ratings ever after a steady decline over the years. In fact no one seems to get excited about the All-Star game anymore. I certainly don’t. I usually watch an inning or two at most. But that is out of sheer habit. After all, I have been watching the All-Star game since 1970.

The All-Star game used to be a game we looked forward to from the first day of the season. It was an exhibition game featuring the games greatest players and average players who were having great years. Willie Mays appeared in 24 all-star games. Billy Grabarkewitz, one. Exhibition notwithstanding the teams played hard to win and there was a noticeable absence of fraternizing between players during the game. There were no frivolous events like Home Run Derby with gold balls or a celebrity softball game. It was an exhibition baseball game pure and simple. But one of the highest quality.

Nowadays the All-Star game has a decidedly carnival like atmosphere, in part because of events like Home Run Derby. The game itself is played with nonchalance. Players from opposing sides intermingle good-naturedly and even exchange high-fives after good plays. But this is understandable when everyone on the field is privileged and a millionaire.

Yes, this may be why we have lost interest in the All-Star game and, some would argue, with baseball in general: because the All-Star game showcases the vast gap that now exists in America between elite athletes and the average citizen. Where we once could relate to a perennial All-Star like Stan Musial, who mowed his own lawn and left his number in the St. Louis telephone directory, we simply can no longer relate to players who are so far removed from ourselves.

So once again this year I will watch an inning at most. Or maybe not watch at all.


Bob Feller and Time

In Uncategorized on December 29, 2010 at 4:43 am

I have been meaning to get around to my Bob Feller memorial post. Unfortunately holiday travel and parenting responsibilities have taken up much of my time recently and I just have not had the time to think about what I wanted to say about Bob Feller. Of course, I never saw Feller pitch. I grew up in the 1970s long after Feller had retired. But every kid who played baseball back then regarded Bob Feller as one of the immortals of the game, along with other players from the same era like DiMaggio, Williams, Musial, Greenberg, et al. Among the Feller lore were the opening day no-hitter against the Yanks in 1940 and the speed demonstration with the US Army artillery machine. Every ten year old kid in 1970 knew these legends.

When I think about Bob Feller more than anything I think about time. To a generation that grew up with Astroturf and the DH, the era in which Bob Feller played was as distant as the Civil War. We were familiar with the great players from 30s and 40s but, as ten-year olds who possessed only a fuzzy sense of historical time we simply could not look back thirty years and comprehend how close Bob Feller’s era was to our own.

If I look back thirty years now to, say, 1980, I recall names likes George Brett, Jack Clark, Steve Carlton, Goose Gossage, Reggie Jackson et al. Far from seeming like another era it feels like only yesterday that I saw these players in action. They are still part of my active memory. To a ten-year old today, however, Steve Carlton is probably as antediluvian as Bob Feller was once for me.

Time is funny. It is one thing to a kid and another thing to an adult.